Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dark Eldar move on Drift

At the end of 01.012M42 the eldar were once again encountered in the Vastrid subsector. Following their victory on Achreom a week previously, the Space Wolves had made the short hop to Drift and set up a base. Before long they were assualted by a much larger force of Dark Eldar, who clearly had an interest in the world. The Space wolves defended their positions stubbornly, but the Dark Eldar, identified as a faction of the Rillietan, were able to inflict significant damage on the Space Wolves' forces, preventing them from expanding their bridgehead.

Meanwhile, unknown to the Imperium, two other forces of eldar were in action on drift. A force of Eldar, possibly acting independantly of the Rillietan, was ambushed by the Shattered Silence Kabal while reconoitering the dark side of the orbitally locked planet. It appeared to be a simple slave raid, as the Dark Eldar prized eldar slaves above all others, but demonstrated the unfathomable factionality of the alien race, once the evidence of the battle was discovered by Inquisitor Huron. Huron renewed his efforts to understand the motives and objectives of the eldar, but by now it had become clear the xenos were not acting in any way as a coherent force.

At roughly the same time, on 3001.012M42, the Tau fleet managed to track down a Dark Eldar fleet of the Shattered Silence Kabal, after months of investigation and intelligence work following the ruthless scourging of Parius. The Tau got their revenge, massacring the Dark Eldar fleet and hopefully improving the security of the smaller Tau colonies in the Perseus Deeps. This was a setback for the Kabal, but by 0102.012M42 they had become the richest and most powerful Dark Eldar force acting in the Aleph Sector.

Mabb Nebula: Tyndareous falls, Hylas invaded

With the Zadocian guard all but destroyed in the last Tau assault, only the Dark Angels remained, defending the last foothold the Imperium had on the planet of Tyndareous. Xanthus' costly diversion in the Mabb Nebula had gone sour, and the superior supply lines of the Tau had ensured an inevitable Tau victory. The Dark Angels refused to give up on the campaign however, stubbornly refusing to evacuate or surrender to the aliens. The world was Imperial and so demanded sacrifice and the Space Marine chapter was not in the habit of giving up.

Realising the mindset of his enemy, commander Shadowstrike employed a ruse. Knowing Imperial intelligence was all but useless, he withdrew a substantial amount of his force ringing the last Imperial stronghold. This had the desired effect, and the Dark Angels sallied forth in a brutal assault. This was the move Shadowstrike had been waiting for. As soon as the Dark Angels attacked, the Tau commander deployed his reserves, catching the Astartes in a murderous crossfire. The Tau admired the Dark Angels' bravery, but were baffled by their futile efforts. Eventually even the Dark Angels realised that more losses were a criminal waste and reluctantly requested evacuation, abandonning the planet to the Tau.

As fate would have it, the only fleet within reach of Tyndareous was a Space Wolves formation commanded by Erik Morkai. On previous occasions the Tau had allowed the Imperium to evacuate worlds, but Shadowstrike was no longer minded to give them that luxury. No sooner had the Space Wolves appeared in the Tyndareous system, the Tau fleet, commanded by Admiral Shinobi, moved to meet them. Trapping and annihilating the remaining Astartes would prevent them reinforcing the neighbouring world of New Cerberex.

As the two fleets approached each other to do battle, a complication arose. Lorek's fleet had been monitoring events for some time, waiting for a moment to strike, destroying the space faring capability of both races and improving his position relative to the Tau and Imperium in the Perseus Deeps. He hoped the two fleets wold damage each other and then his vessels could pick apart both sides as they struggle to regain formation.

Lorek's fleet appeared just a little to early for his plan to work. They were detected by the Tau first, and Admiral Shinobi immediately turned to face the incoming chaos threat. The Space Wolves were left relatively unmolested, and Lorek's plan was actually realised by Morkai's fleet. The Tau fought valiantly but were caught in the crossfire of the two enemy battle groups. Before long Shinobi, losing ships, decided enough was enough, and disengaged from the battle. This left the chaos fleet in an awful tactical position with respect to the Space Wolves, and after a brief battle, the faster chaos vessels fled, allowing Morkai to rescue the remaining Imperial defenders on Tyndareous.

The damage to Shinobi's fleet had an immediate effect. Instead of regrouping on Cerberex the Space Wolves travelled directly to the small Tau colony of Hylas, landing in force near to the main Tau settlement. Caught by surprise the inexperienced Tau commander on the ground did a creditable job defending his positions, and the Space Wolves were frustrated in their attempt to conquer the world in a day. By 0102.012M42 the fighting continued, and Shadowstrike began mobilising his tired forces on Tyndareous for a fresh action on Hylas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vastrid subsector: Achreom secured by Space Wolves

With Spinitus secured for the Imperium, General Pollack remained worried about enemy activity in the Radeon Cluster. Chaos had once again secured a foothold on the world of Sentinel in the Perseus Deeps, and with the Orks still allied, at least officially, to Lorek, the threat of the Orks building bases in the Radeon Cluster, the closest inhabitable worlds in the Vastrid subsector to Sentinel, caused Pollack a great deal of concern.

Gabriel's World was already infested, but Pollack felt securing Achreon, closer to Sentinel, was of paramount importance before any assault on the Orks. The Space Wolves agreed to carry out this task, but just days after their arrival an eldar force attacked them. Ranks of Wraithguard led the assault, but the Space Wolves were up to the task, utilising their strike cruiser in orbit to deliver reinforcements via drop pod. The eldar were defeated, but Inquisitor Huron was contacted. Yet another force of eldar had been encountered in the sector.

Worse knews for Huron was to follow. A Space Wolf patrol, on routine reconnaisance, made contact with a small force of Dark Eldar on 2401.012M42, and although they were eliminated, the corpses suggested they were not part of the Kabals known to Huron. It seemed there was no end to the alien interest in the Aleph sector.

Tyndareous: Tau on the brink of victory

After a short period of relative peace the Tau renewed their offensive in 1201.012M42. Following the stalemate of the last offensive Shadowstrike's cadres once again spearheaded the assault. In the pre-dawn darkness the first the Zadocian Guard protecting Cranburg knew of the Tau advance was when forward pickets reported the sound of numerous jet engines. Tank crews rushed to their vehicles and sergeants bellowed at bleary eyed guardsmen, forming them up at the defensive perimeter. At first all was quiet and relieved commanders on the ground began to think it was a false alarm, but then the darkness was broken by the bright pulses of light and sharp cracks of rail gun discharges.

Blanketed in darkness and the ghostly mists of dawn casualties were initially light for both sides, but as the sun began to rise the guard suddenly found themselves ambushed by kroot auxiliaries, piranha skimmers and stealth teams. The Tau maintained their customary fire discipline, advancing cautiously at first and bringing overwhelming weight of fire against priority targets. As casualties amongst the guard mounted the Tau advance became increasingly aggressive until, with their supporting armour left burning amidst the ruins, the Zadocian resistance collapsed completely. Fire warriors began securing key objectives throughout Cranburg whilst Crisis and stealth teams scoured the destroyed city. The remnants of the Zadocian Guard were either killed or forced to surrender and the regiment ceased to exist as an effective fighting force.